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New pilot voter ID scheme for 2019

Published 8th November 2018

The Government has announced 11 local authorities who will be taking part in voter ID pilots in England in 2019.

Pendle, East Staffordshire and Woking will pilot the need for photo ID, while Ribble Valley, Broxtowe, Derby, North Kesteven and Braintree will ask voters for one form of photo ID or up to two forms of non-photo ID. Mid Sussex, Watford and North West Leicestershire will test using poll cards as a means of identification. The pilots will apply for any parish or town council elections held in these areas in May 2019.

The Government said the pilots will help reduce the risk of voter fraud, as well as providing an insight into the methods of ID that work best for voters.

Minister for the constitution, Chloe Smith, said: ‘I am pleased to see that so many local authorities came forward to participate in the 2019 pilots so we can gain a deeper understanding of how voter ID will work on a wider scale - and what works best for voters. We want people to have confidence that our elections are safeguarded against any threat or perception of electoral fraud.’

Director of communications and research for the Electoral Commission, Craig Westwood, said: 'Our key recommendation following the 2018 voter ID pilots was that any future pilots should include a wider range of local councils, taking in a mixture of rural and large urban areas and areas with different demographic profiles. We are pleased to see this reflected in the proposed list of authorities for 2019, to provide more detailed evidence about the impact of voter identification on different groups of people.'

Peterborough and Pendle will also run a postal vote pilot, looking at the security of postal votes.

A report into the previous pilot scheme concluded that they were ‘well-run’ and manageable for electoral staff. However, this claim was rejected by electoral watchdogs who warned mandatory ID ‘disenfranchises’ voters.

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